FRESH doubts have emerged over the future of Mike Hancock’s political career in Portsmouth.
The city’s Liberal Democrat group is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether the Fratton councillor should keep his cabinet position on the city council.
It’s been called after a catalogue of errors were spotted by the Portsmouth Liberal Democrat party – which is different to the council group – in the way things were conducted at a previous meeting that ruled he could keep his post. As reported, there was a 10-10 split in the vote and Cllr Rob Wood, chairman of the Lib Dem group, decided to abstain.
It comes after Cllr Hancock was suspended from the party nationally over claims he sexually assaulted a female constituent.
He is now an independent councillor and, for now, an independent cabinet member in charge of planning, regeneration and economic redevelopment. The News can now expose the contents of a letter leaked by a Lib Dem insider exposing problems at the previous meeting.
* There was a lack of clarity around declarations of interest – and it’s believed this is in reference to the fact Cllr Hancock’s wife Jacqui, who is a councillor for Charles Dickens ward, was allowed to vote in favour of him and Cllr Hancock was allowed to stay for the vote.
* Party representatives and new Lib Dem candidates selected to run at the next local elections were not present
* The Lib Dem group is at risk of being ‘de-recognised’ under the constitution of the Liberal Democrats in England because of the difference in action being taken on a national and local level.
It’s believed that if there’s a new vote, some will change their minds and go against Cllr Hancock.
The Lib Dem source said: ‘The Lib Dem group is clearly one which is split. When you get a 10-10 it shows there is clearly disagreement within the group.
‘Mike has always protested his innocence and said he will consider it in court.
‘People have tried to be supportive, but it’s got to the stage now where there’s been the intervention from the national party, and the local party has said it is not happy with the decision the group has made. It said the democratic process could have been flawed.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said: ‘It’s silly to speculate about things that haven’t taken place. I don’t know what will happen.’
Cllr Hancock said: ‘I don’t want to comment until the meeting. It’s up to them to decide.’
Cllr Wood refused to comment.
A BREAKDOWN of how each Liberal Democrat councillor voted in the debate over whether to keep Mike Hancock in the cabinet can now be revealed.
Those in favour of him staying were; Jacqui Hancock, Margaret Foster, Lee Hunt, Margaret Adair, Les Stevens, Michael Andrewes, Peter Eddis, David Fuller, Terry Hall and Hugh Mason.
Those against: Jason Fazackarley, Leo Madden, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Darron Phillips, Darren Sanders, Will Purvis, Lynne Stagg, Sandra Stockdale, Phil Smith and Matthew Winnington.
Rob Wood and Steven Wylie abstained from voting.